An Oregon heat wave is coming. Don’t jump in the river

By Jeff Thompson (OPB)
May 10, 2023 6:02 p.m.

Daily high temperatures Friday through Monday could be 25 to 30 degrees above normal, but Northwest rivers are still extremely cold and moving fast.

It’s going to be hot this weekend in much of Oregon and Southwest Washington, with temperatures along the Interstate 5 corridor likely reaching well into the 90s.

A wooden structure in a park that reads "Life Jacket Loaner Station," with several life jackets hanging on it

One of several life jacket loaner stations located around Hagg Lake in Washington County

Oregon Marine Board / OPB

The National Weather Service said daily high temperatures Friday through Monday could be 25 to 30 degrees above average.

In anticipation of that heat, first responders are urging people to be careful around area waterways.

Rick Wunsch with the Corbett Fire Department said it will feel like summer for a few days, but rivers and streams are still extremely cold.

“It’s not that time of year yet where you want to just dive into the water and go swimming,” he said. “It’s cold. It’s going to take your breath away when you jump in there.”


Cold water shock is a leading cause of drowning, according to the Oregon Marine Board.

This spring’s snowpack is nearly double normal levels, and it’s currently melting, so rivers and streams will be moving swiftly.

Related: Heavy snowpack levels in Oregon yield positive results for drought-stricken counties

“If you just absolutely think you have to go out and go swimming, put a life jacket on,” Wunsch said. “That’s always the first line of defense when we’re out swimming in the river.”

Wunsch offered additional tips for people beating the heat in nature this weekend.

“Let people know where you’re going,” he said. “Plan your trip, make sure your cellphone’s charged up and bring proper footwear and equipment with you on the trails. And certainly if you’re around the water and decide to get in the water, take advantage of our life jacket stations.”

Oregon Marine Board: Hot temperatures, cold water, life jackets

The National Weather Service forecast shows high temperatures dropping a bit after Monday. But they could stay in the 80s for much of Oregon well into next week.

Related: How people, pets and infrastructure can respond to extreme heat